The ever-increasing complexity of our society, especially in the realm of science and technology, makes it imperative that the teaching of mathematics and computer science be strengthened and expanded. Progress toward this goal depends in part upon the successful integration of the new mathematics with the old to ensure that students acquire the fundamentals, while they are provided with an overview of the rapidly expanding frontiers in this field. The mathematics curriculum consists of a sequence of courses that follow logically from the ninth through the twelfth grades, with advanced courses available for students who possess extraordinary ability in mathematical thinking.
The R-MA math teachers are a dedicated group who quietly go about doing their work each day. They don't need to brag; the facts speak for themselves:
- R-MA competes in the Virginia Mathematics League, a monthly contest that is taken in the classroom.
- Within the last few years, several students have scored 800 on math on the SATs as well as on the subject test (SAT II)!
- Students who excelled at math at R-MA are currently at the College of William and Mary, Boston University, University of Virginia, United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy and United States Military Academy.
One of the great benefits of an R-MA education is the students have the flexibility to go as far as they are able in math, even at an extremely accelerated level. In addition, there is individualized placement, and a constant evaluation to ensure the students are placed where they belong. There are honors courses at every level and three AP classes, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, and Statistics. In conjunction with these two AP courses, students can earn 14 hours of college credit from Shenandoah University. Advanced mathematics students can also join the Mu Alpha Theta honorary mathematics society.
The hope of every R-MA math teacher is that their students learn to enjoy math. "Part of what you hope to instill is not just knowledge but an appreciation of it," explains Eric Barr. To this end, students don't just come to class and work on math problems. They experience math.
Mr. Barr chooses a "Mathematician of the Month," and teaches about that person's life and how he/she influenced the world we live in today. "I like tying the history of math to what we're doing," says Mr. Barr. "It's not just facts and figures, but people's ideas and lives." Learning about the mathematicians' lives helps put their ideas into appropriate perspectives and time frames, giving students a new appreciation for the math they are learning.
Each of the R-MA math teachers select a "Mathematics Student of the Month." The students' names are displayed in Crow Hall on a bulletin board. The Student of the Month selections are based on aptitude, attitude, and improvement. It is used as a motivational tool for students. All of the teachers strive to integrate technology into the classroom experience as well, whether through Apple Air Play flat screen TV's, or other venues.